Stress may affect students’ health and their academic performance. Coping strategies are specific efforts that individuals employ to manage stress. This study aimed to assess the perception of stress among medical students and their coping strategies.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 376 medical and medical sciences undergraduates in Management and Science University in Malaysia. Stress was assessed by a global rating of stress. Sources of stress were assessed using a 17-item questionnaire. The validated Brief COPE inventory was used to assess coping strategies.
The majority of respondents were females (64.4%), aged 21 years or older (63.0%), and were Malays (68.9%). Forty-six percent felt stress. The most common stressor was worries of the future (71.0%), followed by financial difficulties (68.6%). Significant predictors of stress were smoking (OR = 2.9, 95% CI 1.3–6.8, P = 0.009), worries of the future (OR = 2.1, 95% CI 1.3–3.4, P = 0.005), self-blame (OR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.1–1.5, P = 0.001), lack of emotional support (OR = 0.8, 95% CI 0.7–0.9, P = 0.017), and lack of acceptance (OR = 0.8, 95% CI 0.6–0.9, P = 0.010). Students used active coping, religious coping reframing, planning, and acceptance to cope with stress.
Stressors reported by the students were mainly financial and academic issues. Students adopted active coping strategies rather than avoidance. Students should receive consultation on how to manage and cope with stress.